To read or to write…that is the question

It’s been a while since I wrote.  Not only here but on a screenplay.  Sure I wrote 3 quick shorts on vacation just for something to do on the plane/train…but I didn’t work.

Lots of excuses and ways to procrastinate.  Choices really.

In my writing group we’ve been discussing structure, well mostly books on structure.  Funny, today there was quite a bit of advice about screenwriting books on Twitter. @GoIntoTheStory and @BittrScrptReadr had a nice exchange and what I thought were a few good suggestions.  It got me thinking (and I posted a sarcastic response, sorry).

What books are essential for me?  Syd Field, Blake Snyder, on the shelf and on my nightstand is Lajos Egri.  I think those three suffice really, I know I have others but can’t honestly tell you which ones.

So I thought some more. 

My advice on the topic is that you find the three books that are useful for you.  Read them.  Write.  When you are stuck, read them again, again, and again.  As much as you have to so you can get back to writing.  Don’t pick out something new, that’s just procrastinating.  You have what you need, your three books. Now write.

I thought some more, this is getting dangerous…

I realized too though that even with this strict diet of suggestions, outlines, styles, structure, (whatever it is those three books have), when I am reading them I am not writing.  I am making a choice, and I try to remind myself of it so that it is a conscious one.

There are a lot of shitty “how-to” books out there no doubt. 

Back to the choice, that I made a conscious one.

Should I read a shitty book, or write a shitty screenplay? (remember everyone’s first draft is shit, no exceptions)

For me the strategy needs to be writing a shitty screenplay. I learn from doing (btw: most people do) and I decided today to use my three books to give me the kick in the ass to write, when I need it. 

That’s what any kind of advice is really the most useful for anyway isn’t it?  Making us make a deliberate choice.

-The Two Cheeks



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